Apr 27, 2010

THE MILLENNIUM - BEGIN (COLUMBIA 1968) Jap mastering Blu-Spec CD + 9 bonus

Begin is the only album ever released by the collective known as The Millennium during its lifetime (though there have been several compilations since the group's demise).
Begin has gained notoriety throughout the years as being the most expensive album that Columbia Records had released by that time, though critics generally agree that the money was well spent. It is now generally considered to be a classic of sunshine pop.
Influenced by psychedelia and California rock, pop/rock producer Curt Boettcher (the Association) decided to assemble a studio supergroup who would explore progressive sounds in 1968. Millennium's resultant album would find no commercial success and only half-baked artistic success, but nonetheless retains some period charm. Influenced in roughly equal measures by the Association, the Mamas and the Papas, the Smile-era Beach Boys, Nilsson, the Left Banke, and the Fifth Dimension, Boettcher and his friends came up with a hybrid that was at once too unabashedly commercial for underground FM radio and too weird for the AM dial. It would have fit in better on the AM airwaves, though; the almost too-cheerful sunshine harmonies and catchy melodies dominate the suite-like, diverse set of elaborately produced '60s pop/rock tunes. ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide

EGGS OVER EASY - GOOD N' CHEAP (A&M 1972) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 4 bonus

Historically renowned as the band which launched the entire British pub rock scene, the all-American Eggs over Easy originally arrived in the U.K. to cut a record with producer Chas Chandler in 1970. Sessions at Olympic Studios went well, but escalating problems with the group's American backers, Cannon Films, saw the project run aground in the new year and the group moved onto the live circuit while they sought a new deal. They played a number of college gigs around the country, but it was at the Tally Ho pub in London's Kentish Town neighborhood, just around the corner from the band's communal home, that they made their reputation -- and forged an entire new musical movement.
Originally booked to play the traditionally slack Monday night at a venue which had hitherto favored jazz performers, Eggs over Easy's reputation quickly spread, not only to the public but also among other bands. The members of Brinsley Schwarz were early admirers, frequently attending the band's Tally Ho dates and often joining them onstage -- before long, Brinsley Schwarz, too, was concentrating their attention on the pub circuit. With other bands hastening to join them, by early fall 1971, interest and enthusiasm was so high that Eggs over Easy was able to organize a city-wide tour of Inde Coope brewery pubs. They followed through with a 12-date U.K. tour supporting John Mayall, Eggs over Easy's country rock-flavored repertoire offering a fascinating counterpoint to Mayall's then rampant jazz-blues fixation.
The group's U.K. sojourn was coming to an end, however. Despite having recorded an album, a record deal remained elusive, while the band's work permits were also expiring. On November 7, 1971, Eggs over Easy played their final Tally Ho show, then returned to the U.S. They would disband shortly after, but before they did, they signed with A&M and finally consigned a fraction of their repertoire to vinyl -- according to Brinsley Schwarz's Nick Lowe, the band had over 100 songs at their fingertips. Just one-tenth of that catalog appeared on Good'N'Cheap; the band has also been enshrined on EMI's Naughty Rhythms: The Best of Pub Rock CD anthology. ~ Dave Thompson, All Music Guide

Apr 7, 2010

UNIT 4+2 - UNIT 4+2 (FONTANA 1969) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 12 bonus

Unit 4+2 was a one-hit wonder that probably deserved better. As one of the better acoustic-electric bands of the mid-'60s, the group stormed the charts with one memorable hit, "Concrete and Clay," scoring on both sides of the Atlantic, but they were never able to come up with a follow-up that was as catchy.
...Their 1966 release "I Was Only Playing Games" had some proto psychedelic elements, and a heavy orchestral accompaniment that rather anticipated elements of the sound that the Moody Blues would perfect at Decca early the next year. Unit 4+2 was less successful in their orchestral-psychedelic experiment, and after three failed attempts at another hit, they left Decca in 1966 and signed with Fontana Records. They continued to record pop-flavored singles (and the label subsequently put out an LP), all of which seemed less and less attuned to the times in which they worked.
Garwood, Halliday, and Meikle exited in 1967, and were replaced by Ballard and Henrit (the Roulettes having broken up that year). The band continued as a quintet, strengthened in some ways by the new lineup; the Roulettes had been a first-rate rock & roll band, with a great ear for hooks and first-rate material, and Ballard and Henrit toughened up the sound of Unit 4+2. In 1968, the band made a valiant effort at getting in front of the pop music pack with a cover of Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere," which failed to compete with the version by the Byrds.
They moved back into a full-blown psychedelic mode in 1969 with their final single, ""3.30" b/w "I Will," filled with harpsichords and lavish orchestration. It failed to chart, and the group disbanded in 1969 -- Ballard and Henrit hooked up soon after with ex-Zombie Rod Argent in the band Argent, which had exactly the kind of heavy, arena rock-type sound needed to compete in the early '70s.[allmusic]

TURTLES - TURTLE SOUP (WHITE WHALE 1969) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

Though many remember only their 1967 hit, "Happy Together," the Turtles were one of the more enjoyable American pop groups of the '60s, moving from folk-rock inspired by the Byrds to a sparkling fusion of Zombies-inspired chamber pop and straight-ahead, good-time pop reminiscent of the Lovin' Spoonful, the whole infused with beautiful vocal harmonies courtesy of dual frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman. Though they hit number one in 1967 with the infectious "Happy Together," the Turtles scored only three more Top Ten hits and broke up by the end of the '60s. Kaylan and Volman later joined Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention during the early '70s and also recorded themselves as Flo & Eddie, but were on the oldies circuit with a revamped Turtles by the mid-'80s.
The group's final album, produced by Ray Davies, is a modestly enjoyable collection of good-time rock, occasionally with a slight progressive or satirical edge. The Turtles always seemed to harbor some serious ambitions, but the fact was that their only true forte was catchy pop/rock singles; when they aimed for more, the results were merely pleasant...There aren't any hit singles missing in action here, except maybe "You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain...

Apr 1, 2010

JACKIE LOMAX - IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT? (APPLE 1969) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve + 5 bonus

...In early 1962, Jackie Lomax left Dee and the Dynamites to join Merseybeat band The Undertakers. They followed the same route as The Beatles through local venues before setting out for Hamburg, Germany and finally securing a record deal. From that point onwards, they were dogged by ill-luck and lack of success. They signed with Pye Records and released four singles which only managed to place one week on the British charts between them. In 1965 they moved to America to try their luck there.
After two years in America with The Undertakers and a couple of other groups, Jackie Lomax's latest band, The Lomax Alliance, were taken back to Britain in 1967 by Brian Epstein to showcase them at the Saville Theatre in London. He arranged for a single and an album to be recorded and they signed to CBS. Epstein's untimely death ruined the plans for the band. During that period CBS released two Lomax Alliance singles and one solo Jackie Lomax single. More than enough tracks for an album were recorded but it was never released.
As 1968 opened, however, opportunity beckoned for Jackie Lomax, with the founding of Apple Records by the Beatles. George Harrison remembered the singer well from the other end of the decade in Liverpool, and in March of that year, the Beatles guitarist recorded Lomax on a pair of songs, "Little Yellow Pills" and "Won't You Come Back." He was happy enough with the session to have Lomax back to record a song he'd written specifically for him in India, called "Sour Milk Sea," in what amounted to a busted Beatles session featuring Harrison and Lomax on rhythm guitars, Eric Clapton on lead, Paul McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr at the drum kit, and Nicky Hopkins on piano. Backed with Lomax's "The Eagle Laughs at You," the song came out in August of 1968. Buoyed by positive reviews and an enthusiastic response on the radio, it seemed to herald great things for Lomax, so much so that Harrison recorded three additional songs with him in London during August and September, and six more songs in Los Angeles in October, this time availing themselves of Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel, and Joe Osborn as session musicians. The result was the Jackie Lomax LP Is This What You Want?, issued in March of 1969 -- the latter never charted but, thanks to the single, good word-of-mouth, and the presence of an all-star lineup, it did sell gradually and steadily. In March of 1969, Paul McCartney took over producing Lomax on a cover of the Coasters' song "Thumbin' a Ride" and a Lomax original, "Going Back to Liverpool." And in April of 1969, Lomax produced himself on his own "New Day," which became the A-side of "Thumbin' a Ride." All of these records attracted attention but none charted, and following one last Harrison-produced single, "How the Web Was Woven," in October of 1969, Lomax's history with Apple came to an end...

BERT JANSCH - BIRTHDAY BLUES (TRANSATLANTIC 1969) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve

One of the most important figures in contemporary British folk, Bert Jansch brought an unsurpassed combination of virtuosity and eclecticism to the acoustic guitar, both as a solo act and a key member of Pentangle. Also a talented songwriter and affecting (if gruff) vocalist, he wrote dark and sparse material that recalled the folky side of Donovan, though he was much less pop-oriented than the psychedelic pop troubadour. Incorporating elements of blues, American folk, and British Isles traditional music into his playing, his influence was not only immense in the British folk scene, it also extended to the rock world -- Neil Young and Jimmy Page, two electric guitar gonzos who often turn to acoustic picking as well, have acknowledged Jansch as a major influence. Young went as far as to tell Guitar Player that Jansch did for the acoustic guitar what Jimi Hendrix did for the electric. A revered elder statesperson in the U.K., he has escaped widespread notice in the States. He has all the prerequisites for a large cult following on the order of Nick Drake, another musician whose work contains definite echoes of Jansch.
Born in Scotland, Jansch vagabonded around the U.K. and Europe for a while before basing himself in London in the early '60s. He made an impact on the city's folk community not only for his guitar skills, but for his original songwriting, singing his own compositions at a time when Dylan was just beginning to make that practice widespread in folk circles. Friend and fellow folksinger Anne Briggs helped Jansch get a contract with Transatlantic, a small British folky label. Recorded on a single microphone and a borrowed guitar at Jansch's apartment, his first album immediately established him as a major force in British folk. Consisting almost entirely of original compositions, the brooding, plaintive compositions showcased his dextrous fingerpicking.
Jansch graduated to a real studio for his second album, It Don't Bother Me. That LP featured some contributions from guitarist John Renbourn, and the pair would record a joint effort in the mid-'60s as well, Bert and John. Soon Jansch and Renbourn would be playing together as part of a five-member group, Pentangle, one of the greatest folk acts of the 1960s. Pentangle, also featuring vocalist Jacqui McShee and the rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Terry Cox, was very much a group effort. Of all the group members, however, Jansch was probably the most important, writing the best original material, singing occasional lead vocals, and recording some enthralling guitar tandems with Renbourn.
Jansch's increasing involvement (and eventual commercial success) with Pentangle did not mean an end to his solo career, although Pentangle got first priority in the late '60s and early '70s. Nicola, from 1967, was a pretty good attempt to commercialize his sound somewhat with poppier material and some fuller studio arrangements. 1969's Birthday Blues was an effort more consistent with his early folk recordings, and included instrumental support by some members of Pentangle. [allmusic]